Encyclopedia Titanica


New York Times

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Family of Philanthropist Who Died on Titanic Present at Temple Beth-El
Mrs. Benjamin Guggenheim, Made Widow by Wreck, at Temple Emanu-El---General Services To-day
Services in the Jewish temples of the city yesterday were occasions of mourning for the dead in the Titanic disaster. At several of the synagogues the catastrophe a was the subject of the sermon.

At Temple Beth-El, Fifth Avenue and Seventy-sixth Street, of which Mr. and Isidor Straus, who died loyally together, were members, all the representatives of the Straus family now in the city were present. They were ex-Ambassador Oscar Straus, brother of the dead philanthropist; Percy Straus, his son; Mrs. Percy Straus and her sisters, Mrs. Percy Straus's mother, Mrs. Abraham Abraham, widow of the late Mr. Straus's business partner; Mrs. Lazarus Kohns, his sister; Lee Kohns, his nephew, and Mrs. Edmund Wise, his niece.

The Rev. Dr. Samuel Schulman, who during his fourteen years incumbency as rabbi of the temple had been closely associated with Mr. Straus, could scarcely control his emotions as he spoke. He said in part:

"I knew Isidor Straus for fourteen years. He was a man with a great intellect, a sensitive conscience, a great heart, a loyal son of his people, and a loyal American---a great man.

"God's ways are not our ways. There we should not attempt to define His motive in this tragic end of a great person. God sometimes, in His infinite wisdom, selects a man to designate that his life may be remembered by all mankind. At the conclusion of the civil war it seemed to every one that the life of Abraham Lincoln was complete. His work, a great work, had been accomplished. Yet God saw one thing lacking. To perpetuate through the annals of time itself, one thing was essential. And God designated him and made a martyr of him.

"Isidor Straus was a great Jew. All the traditions of the Jew were dear to his heart. In the past we, as Jews, have been able to say the Jews are great philanthropists. Now when we are asked, 'Can a Jew die bravely?' there is an answer written in the annals of time. When we are asked, 'What enabled Isidor Straus to do all these things?' our answer must be, ‘God blessed him and gave him Ida Straus.' Isidor and Ida Straus were two persons with a single person. Beloved and adored of each other in life, in death they were not separated."

At Temple Emanu-El, Fifth Avenue and Forty-third Street, the “Dead March in Saul” was played during the silent prayer. Sounds of sobbing filled the great edifice throughout the service, which was attended by Mrs. Benjamin Guggenheim, who was widowed by the Titanic catastrophe; Mr. and Mrs. Daniel Seligman, Mrs. De Witt Seligman, sister of Mr. Guggenheim; George Rosenheim, [sic] whose brother perished in the disaster; Mrs. Leo Greenfield and her son, and Mrs. Edgar Meyer, the last three of whom were survivors of the wreck.

"God Is the Law Giver of the universe," said the Rev. Dr. Joseph Silverman, who preached the sermon, "and His laws are for the benefit of all, not of the few. When we violate the fundamental laws of nature we must suffer. Not God was responsible for this great disaster, but the imperfection of human knowledge and judgment.

“Men learn by experience. Many may take comfort in the thought that the same errors will not again be committed, and that there will be no great sacrifice of life in the future from the same causes. All the progress in the world has been brought about by suffering on the part of individuals. Thousands have died and many more thousands have suffered ill because of science. Millions have died on battlefields for the sake of liberty. Those on the Titanic when it went down must be added to the great roll of martyrs to progress."

The Rev. Dr. Rudolph Grossman spoke on the Titanic tragedy at the Temple Rodeph Sholom, Lexington Avenue and Sixty-third Street.

"To a great many people," he said, "this means only one thing; it increases their infidelity and irreligion. They say, 'Where was God? Why did He not uphold this ship with His strong arms!' This is both unjust and cowardly. Why should you hold God responsible for the wrong of man? Did God give the orders for speed? Is God at fault that there were not sufficient lifeboats? It is human stupidity, sinfulness, and cupidity.

"In recent years there has been a mania among our steamship companies for larger boats and greater accommodations, at the sacrifice of human safety and at a sacrifice of human life. It is sad, but true, that man can only improve by experience. We see this same mania for speed and greed in our automobiles. They speed so fast that the life of every pedestrian is endangered. We see it in our railroad trains, which cross the continent at such a rate that it makes every revolution of the wheels almost a menace to human life.

"If this terrible disaster will serve as an object lesson, those who sacrificed their lives to speed and greed will not have died entirely in vain. Now it is for us to rejoice that our Government has taken such prompt action.

"Although the records of history are filled with the deeds of brave men, there is no record of sacrifice or heroism in the annals of God or man which is brighter or more everlasting than the splendid deeds of these brave men. They showed the true chivalry.

"While we mourn for the humblest, the stokers and the sailors who died like men in the performance of their duty, and for the humblest in the steerage, we also mourn for those great men in philanthropy and in other lines which this country could ill afford to lose.

“There is one which we as Jews especially mourn----Isidor Straus, a leader in every good and noble cause, whether patriotic, religious, or educational. We must call attention also to the wonderfully beautiful, almost sublime, deed of his noble wife, who refused to leave him."

Memorial services will be held generally to-day in all the churches. There will be services at St. Patrick's Cathedral, Trinity Church, Grace Church, the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Church of the Incarnation, Free Synagogue, Carnegie Hall, Russian Cathedral of St. Nicholas, Church of St. Vincent de Paul, St. Bartholomew's Church, the Greek Church, the Swedish churches in Brook Avenue and Randall Avenue, Broadway Tabernacle, Fifth Avenue Presbyterian Church, and other churches in Manhattan, and at the Central Congregational Church, Beecher Memorial Church, Christ Church, Trinity Baptist Church, and other churches in Brooklyn.

William Jennings Bryan, it is expected, will speak at the services in the Calvary Methodist Episcopal Church.


Mark Baber, USA


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Encyclopedia Titanica (2004) TRIBUTE TO STRAUS PAID IN SYNAGOGUES (New York Times, Sunday 21st April 1912, ref: #3658, published 3 September 2004, generated 22nd May 2024 01:04:23 AM); URL : https://www.encyclopedia-titanica.org/tribute-to-straus-paid-synagogues.html